Nicholas Winton at 105 photo David Levene for The Guardian
Nicholas Winton who saved hundreds of children from the Holocaust and didn’t tell anyone about it for over 50 years died Wednesday, July 1 in Maidenhead, England at the age of 106.
With all the chaos and hatred that permeates today’s news, it is sometimes easy to forget that there are real humanitarians in this world who have accomplished extraordinary things. Nicholas Winton was one of those truly good people who remind us that good deeds can come out of bad events.
How Nicholas Winton rescued 669 children from Nazi occupied Czechoslovakia on the eve of World War II is an amazing story told on the BBC 27 years ago and in America in 2014 on 60 Minutes.
Here is a portrait of humanity at its best with 60 Minutes telling Winton’s story.
The Nation Mourns After Learning of the Death Of F.D.R.
This is how the New York newspapers announced the death of F.D.R. on April 12, 1945.
70 years ago today when the 32nd President of the Unites States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt died suddenly of a massive stroke at the age of 63 in Warm Springs, GA there was an overwhelming outpouring of grief across the globe.
With the exception of Adolph Hitler and a few die hard anti-FDR Republicans most of the world was saddened to learn of Roosevelt’s death. Roosevelt was held in high esteem by most Americans, even those that did not agree with many of his policies. There were also those who could not stand the man, but were in awe of Roosevelt as a shrewd politician and the job he had done in seeing the United States through the Great Depression and World War II.
It was especially sad that Roosevelt never got to witness the end of the war which brought final victory to the Allies. Less than four weeks after Roosevelt’s death, Hitler and Mussolini were dead and Victory in Europe Day was celebrated May 8, 1945. Japan unconditionally surrendered on August 15, 1945.
What I cannot imagine happening now in today’s world of partisan politics is having a universal outpouring of sorrow if a President were to die suddenly while in office. There is so much outright hatred and disrespect in modern politics that we will never see anything like this again.
After graduating college Corman was working on the fringes of advertising and with the encouragement of a friend, Herb Gardner (A Thousand Clowns; I’m Not Rappaport; etc), he took a stab at writing a book. That effort was published as Oh God! A Novel (1971). After that hurdle Corman never looked back and he became a full-time novelist. Oh God! was eventually made into a very popular movie in 1977 starring George Burns and John Denver.
Some of Corman’s other acclaimed novels include The Bust-Out King (1977), The Old Neighborhood (1980); 50 (1987); Prized Possessions (1991); The Boyfriend from Hell (2006) and his most famous work, Kramer vs. Kramer (1977) which was adapted into a movie in 1979 and was the winner of five Academy Awards including Best Picture.
Avery Corman’s success must partially stem from his middle-class upbringing in the Fordham section of the Bronx during the 1940’s and 50’s, where he admits he was not the best student when it came to math and science, but did well in the humanities and was surrounded by a loving, extended family.
My Old Neighborhood Remembered A Memoir is more a series of vignettes rather than a straight autobiography and that style comes off well. Corman shares his memories of childhood during World War II up until he becomes a successful author in the late 1960’s. He paints beautiful word pictures, sometimes tinged with sadness, of growing up in a wondrous place that no longer exists. Most of the stories offer short bursts of family life, games, food, education, sports and all the things that contributed to making the Bronx a special place to grow up in.
Corman’s stories resonate with a tender glow of friendships, family and the feeling that neighborhoods were once really neighborhoods, where the familiarity of rituals, people and places were ingrained in the surroundings.
Here are parts one and two of an exclusive interview with Avery Corman.
Part I, Avery Corman talks about what made the Bronx a special place during the war. His unique living situation and school life.
This is simply a great photograph of something you will probably never see again, kids gathering around a newspaper to read a story. The communal reading or sharing of news done without a tablet, mobile device, Twitter, Facebook or any social network. Just friends, schoolmates and neighbors sharing a very important event.
In this case the boys are looking at the New York World -Telegram issue of September 1, 1939 announcing the German bombing of Poland.
When the Nazis invaded Poland it was of great interest to the Polish neighborhoods in New York City. The slug for this Acme news photograph reads:
War News In Polish District Of New York
New York City – A group of boys in the Polish district of downtown New York City study a newspaper bearing the news of the German invasion of Poland. As these lads read the paper boys their own age in Poland got their first taste of modern war as German planes dropped bombs from the sky. Credit Line (Acme) 9-1-39
A few of these boys in the photograph look older than thirteen. Since the war would last until August 1945, I couldn’t help but wonder if any of them went on to fight and die in World War II.